What may be surprising to some is that jet lag is typically considered a temporary sleep disorder, which occurs when traveling from one time zone to another in quick succession. Because of the human body’s internal clock that tells you when to go to sleep and when to wake up, also known as the circadian rhythm, traveling to a different time zone can be disorienting due to your body still being synced to the original time zone that you had just left. The symptoms can worsen the farther you go as well.
These symptoms can range from daytime fatigue to gastrointestinal problems, and every general symptom of sleep deprivation in between. Fortunately, jet lag is a temporary disorder, and there are several ways in which you can prevent falling victim to it.
- Plan Ahead
Though planning ahead is an obvious must when traveling anywhere in the world, for those visiting destinations that are in drastically different time zones, you’ll want to plan ahead in a different sense. Gradually adjust your sleeping patterns in preparation for the new times you’ll need to go to sleep and wake up. For example, if you are traveling east, go to sleep an hour earlier than you normally would for a few days, eventually upping that to two hours earlier. The opposite goes for those heading west.
- Maintain Your Health
Everyone understands the benefits that come with a proper diet, exercise, and good night’s sleep. The trick is actually implementing those habits within your daily routine. In terms of jet lag prevention, they can be even more beneficial. Some studies have shown that a better overall sense of wellness can increase your body’s adjustment to the new time zone. When on the plane or upon arrival, try to avoid developing the “vacation diet,” in which you have very little limitations with what you eat and drink. Overeating, alcohol, and caffeine all directly affect your sleeping patterns, and can worsen the symptoms of jet lag.
- Don’t Force Sleep
A common mistake many travelers make when entering a new time zone is giving in to their bodies’ circadian rhythm, and going to sleep regardless of the local time. If you arrive at your destination at 10:00 a.m., no matter what time your body thinks it is, go about your day accordingly. Don’t force yourself to sleep during earlier times. Set an itinerary beforehand, and set out to accomplish all that you can in that first day. If napping is a necessity, try not to go over 20 or 30 minutes.